Hanging the Greens

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Despite iffy weather on Sunday, what a fun service we had on Sunday! A new Christmas tradition got established for the Sunday following Thanksgiving with the “Hanging of the Greens.” A special thanks to Patti Lacombe for planting the seed of involving the community in decorating the sanctuary. On Saturday, Patti, with the help of Randall Sawyer and Anna Ritchie, got the ladder out and hung the garland and decorated the areas out of arm’s reach, preparing for decorating the hanging greens.

First, what does “hanging the greens” mean and how did it get started? This is a custom that predates the birth of Christ and its purpose was to bring in green boughs and branches to sustain people during the winter without electricity.

It continued and eventually homes, stores and churches began using them to decorate. Using evergreens has become a universal feature of Christmas. The early Christians placed them in their windows to indicate that Christ had entered the home. Holly and ivy, along with pine and fir, are called evergreens because they never change color. They symbolize the unchanging nature of our God, and they remind us that life is everlasting.

We enter Advent next Sunday and Advent is a time of expectation. It is a four-week period of preparation, weekly lighting of an Advent candle in an Advent wreath. The flame of each new candle reminds us that something is happening, and something more is still to come. The candles are arranged in a circle to remind us of the continuous power of God, which knows neither beginning nor ending.

The poinsettia is a symbol of the star of Bethlehem. It was named after Dr. Joel Robert Poinsett, an ambassador to Mexico, who first introduced it to the United States in 1828. The people of Mexico and Central America call the brilliant tropical plant the Flower of the Holy Night.

There are several stories about the Christmas Tree. The Tree of Life was a fir tree decorated with apples. Later, other ornaments were hung upon them, such as paper flowers and gilded nuts. In England branches or whole trees were forced into bloom indoors for Christmas. Martin Luther was perhaps the first to use a lighted tree.

The story is told that on one Christmas Eve Martin Luther wandered outdoors and became enraptured with the beauty of the starry sky. Wishing to share with his wife and children the enchantment he had felt, he cut from the forest an evergreen, glistening with snow, and took it home. He placed upon it candles to represent the glorious heavens he had seen. The use of a candle-lighted tree spread to all Europe; then America came to regard it as the central ornament of Christmas.

The greatest Gift of Christmas is the Gift of Christ being re-born in you and me. All that we do during this Holy Season points to that expression of Holy Love. Christ came as a babe in Bethlehem, God’s gift at Christmas. It is through the work of the Holy Spirit in your life and mine that the Gift goes on.

Please join us Christmas Eve at 7 p.m. for an evening that includes a meaningful Christmas message, beautiful music and a magical candle lighting. It is for the whole family and for your friends as well.

Join us next Sunday for the first Sunday of Advent and “A World of Hope.”

You are a blessing in my life.
Rev. Patricia Bessey

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